Principal challenges students to read 1,000
It’s a tough time of year for students at Mary J. Tanner.
The playground starts getting muddy and kids at recess sometimes can’t go outside even when the sun is shining, the ground is just too soft and muddy.
Principal Kristie Gijanto said she has developed a few coping strategies over the years including having the school keep close tabs on ‘the last great race,’ the Iditarod sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska.
With the sled dog race coming to an end, Gijanto said Wednesday that she had another idea.
As a part of ‘Wacky Stunt Week’ the principal has challenged the entire school to read 1,000 books before the May 15 deadline. Students, staff and parents can all contribute to the effort. Even books parents read to their children will count towards the total, she said. Slips accounting for the books will be tallied in the principal’s office.
If they do reach that goal, she’ll kiss a…
Just what she would be kissing was up for grabs as the students were busy posting ballots in a close three-way election between a goat, a calf and a pig.
“We live in such an agricultural community that I thought it was only appropriate it be a farm animal,” she said.
Pig was leading cow and goat late into the voting cycle with about three quarters of classrooms reporting in.
Gijanto said she had already had a little behind the scenes advice from the kids.
“One little girl wrote me and told me that it would be best to kiss a goat, but I had to watch out because they bite,” she said.
And the winner is…
“Pig it is,” Gijanto said the following day, with cow second and goat finishing third.
“They’re all pretty excited,” she added. “It was interesting to see the different perspectives on why they voted like they did.”
Some students confessed to voting against the cow because they drool so much, while an older student provided that as the reason they voted against the eventual winner and selected cow over pig.
Since announcing the contest, the principal said a few parents have already volunteered livestock for smooching.
Like every fun project at a primary school there is method behind the animal kissing. The idea behind the “kiss a barnyard animal” contest was to get kids excited about reading, and hopefully start some life long readers on the path.
“It’s a reading incentive, a fun way for kids to get excited about reading and hopefully make it a lifelong habit,” she said.
Even the voting had a purpose. Gijanto said the kids will get a glimpse at charting numbers.
“All of the classrooms will have graphs showing how they voted,” she said.
The pay off will come later in the year when Gijanto said PTA president Lynn Wilbur and Superintendent Dan Teplesky will join in the fun at an outdoor assembly when school officials meet barnyard animals.
Gijanto said she has tremendous confidence in her students and realizes what that means. “I’m sure I’ll be kissing a pig,” she said.